The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Chapter four: What happened next

Rachael Conlin Levy
Photo of Mike Cockrills art by C-Monster

When she woke the next morning, she looked around for the charred bed springs and singed carpet, but the only sign of the night’s combustion of words was the soot beneath her eyes. Warm buttery sunlight melted on the bedroom floor. She breathed, and her relief caused the mobile of paper butterflies to dance and twirl above her head. The days that followed were flights on gossamer wings. She danced and sang and smiled as the sun shone, but at night she plunged into the flames like a moth on a suicide mission, only to rise again in the morning to dance with dark rings under her eyes.

“Something is terribly wrong,” she told a friend over tea.

But the friend was blowing on the tea to cool it and didn’t hear her.

“I’ve been cursed,” she told her husband over the telephone.

But the babies were crying, and when her husband asked her to repeat herself, she threw the phone instead, shattering it against the door and leaving a hole that resembled a small, hungry mouth. Picking up the tiny voice from among the broken pieces, she fed it to the door, which swallowed it and began reciting long passages from “Moby Dick” until her daughter came along and silenced it by taping its mouth shut with Band-Aids.

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